cover image Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth

Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth

Martin Dugard. McGraw-Hill Companies, $19.95 (202pp) ISBN 978-0-07-018129-8

Set in such exotic locales as Borneo, the Andes and Madagascar, the Raid Gauloises--the world's toughest ""adventure race,"" according to the author--challenges athletes to run, bike, swim, kayak, hike and even parachute through, into and across some of the hottest, muddiest and downright most unpleasant terrains on Earth. The multiday event is so grueling that even navy SEALs have been known to drop out before finishing. Journalist Dugard, who has competed in the race twice and finished once, records his experiences of the race and of his writing life outside it in this briskly told report. Unfortunately, Dugard spends more time musing over his personal journey to the race (recounting his leap from the corporate world to that of journalism in expansive detail, for example) than delving into the mindset of the ""extreme athlete"" in the heat of competition. Runners and extreme sports enthusiasts will no doubt relate to Dugard's exacting descriptions of the race and its hardships. However, coverage of the event's evolution (from obscure competition conceived in 1989 to televised media event) and of the sponsorship troubles and in-fighting Dugard had to contend with on his own ""team"" does little to make up for the relative paucity of participant reportage. For all the buildup, Dugard's account of his first race is too brief, and that of his second does little more to capture the armchair adventurer's imagination. Photos by Tony DiZinno, not seen by PW. (Feb.)